While the BBC emphasise Reg Empey’s comments on loyalist paramilitaries, reporting that he has promised to help those who took steps towards ‘calling it a day’ – “Northern Ireland is moving on apace and loyalist paramilitaries need to recognise that they no longer have any reason to maintain their structures.” – well, that’s a carrot, of sorts, where’s the stick? – UTV carries a much fuller account of the speech to the UUP party conference
In the two years since the DUP became Northern Ireland`s largest party in the Assembly elections, Sir Reg said republicans had been able to secure a tidal wave of concessions.
“It is nearly two years since the DUP assumed the mantle of the largest union party,” the East Belfast MLA said.
“In that time, instead of their promises being fulfilled, we have seen a tidal wave of concessions which continue to father[gather?] momentum, a failed so-called comprehensive agreement in December last year where the DUP agreed in principle to enter government with Sinn Fein.
“After two years we still have no devolution.
“Sinn Fein, Downing Street and Dublin form the main decision-makes axis.
“Unionists are back where they started in the 1980s. All this concerns me greatly but Ian Paisley is fit to say that unionist confidence has never been higher! I don`t know where he is living at present.”
It’s an analysis which, while possibly playing well to the party faithful, is somewhat undermined by the comments which preceded it –
“Let`s be clear about this: the Provos have suffered a military defeat.
“No victorious so-called army hands over weapons to a commission established by its enemy.
“Oh yes, they`ll still be around, doing a bit of enforcing here, a bit of smuggling there.
“For republicans who murdered, maimed, bombed and robbed for 35 years their needless and futile war is at an end.
“But generally speaking, they`ll become political just as others have and we in the Ulster Unionist Party and the DUP will have to deal with that reality.
“Let me say it again: The Provisional IRA has failed.”
Perhaps Reg will clarify how those seemingly contradictory analyses co-exist in the coming months..
However, he seems to have ended his speech with a rather unlikely, and unflattering, comparison –
“Together we can secure our cherished Union. We will settle for nothing less.
“In the slightly amended words of the current governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger: we`ll be back.“[added emphasis]
Honestly.. give him a pair of shades and a leather jacket and you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart…